Preventing and Managing Heart Disease
Prevent heart disease by taking control of your heart health. While some factors to developing heart disease may be unavoidable such as family history or your age, there are a number of risk factors that you can control.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide, so don't wait for symptoms to appear. Act now by simply knowing what your risk factors are, and then manage or eliminate them. Experts at the Smidt Heart Institute can help diagnose and treat any conditions you may have.
Some people seek help when they first notice chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations. Patients should act at the very first sign that they might be at risk: a family history of heart disease. Other key risk factors for heart disease include:
Reduce Your Risk
Once you've determined you have one or more risk factors, take action to reduce your risk. Some suggestions are:
- Diet: Eat heart-healthy foods. Fuel your body with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish. Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Limit your salt intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams per day if you have heart-disease risk. Learn more about Cedars-Sinai's Nutritional Counseling Program.
- Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise helps manage your risk of heart disease. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity 5 days a week is sufficient, according to the American Heart Association. To lower blood pressure and cholesterol, increase your goal to 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity 3 to 4 times a week.
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol. Don't hesitate to seek assistance through a smoking cessation program that can provide extra tools and support. Alcohol consumption should be limited to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and no more than 1 for women. More than this amount increases risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other diseases. Learn more about Smoking Cessation Support at Cedars-Sinai.
- Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to higher blood pressure and higher risk of stroke and heart attack. Aim for 6 to 8 hours a night.
- Know your numbers. Know your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Keep them in the healthy range.
- Medications: Discuss your risk with your doctor. Medications such as statins and aspirin are powerful tools that apply to certain patients. Your physician may recommend that you take medications to control high blood pressure and diabetes.